Beeta Ansari

Beeta is Ashoka U’s Exchange Director, the world’s largest global convening for social entrepreneurship education.

Changemaker of the Week: Jensen Roll

Jensen Roll, a student at Elon University, describes his organization, H.O.P.E., an organization that provides sustainable support for local food pantries through a certification process with restaurants.

Jensen is being featured as part of Ashoka U’s series, “Changemaker of the Week” which highlights extraordinary student changemakers in college and graduate programs around the world. Check the Ashoka U Blog each week for a story of a new Changemaker of the Week!

1. What is your project or organization?
The name of the organization is H.O.P.E. – Helping Other People Eat. We provide sustainable financial support for local food pantries. We do this through a certification process with restaurants. All H.O.P.E. Certified restaurants give the customer the opportunity to donate a dollar or more towards Helping Other People Eat. All of these proceeds go toward a local food pantry. We provide advertising and marketing for H.O.P.E. Certified restaurants as social responsible and we provide education on hunger in the community for customers.

2. How did you get involved with this project / organization (or how did you decide to found it)?
I came up with the idea for this organization when I was working at a food pantry. I saw that there were only a few people sustaining the food pantry financially and that there were still some needs there that weren’t being filled. I also saw how negative the impact would be if one of the donors stopped supporting the food pantry. H.O.P.E. diversifies the people who are supporting the food pantry so instead of 5 people donating $1,000 each we have 5,000 people donating $1 each. With this model if 2 people leave only $2 would be lost instead of $2,000.

3) How has being a college student changed the way you act as a changemaker?
Being a college student has its good and bad aspects when it comes to creating a business. The university atmosphere provides all the resources that we could ever need or access to all of the resources we could need to start a business. We have had many different mentors at the faculty and administrative level. On the flip side my grades have suffered and it can be hard to get everything that needs to happen between 8-5pm for H.O.P.E. while also getting everything I need to get done for school.

4) What’s the best part of working on your venture?
I get to work with and brainstorm with some of the most interesting people in my school and in North Carolina. I have found that when you invest yourself in helping others many people will buy into your idea and help you however they can.

5) What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a changemaker?
There is deep need in this world that can only be solved with the effort of some of the most ambitious and intelligent and invested people. If as college students we don’t feel like we can do this than we have to gain a better understanding of what a changemaker is. You don’t need to have all the answers, you just need to identify an issue you’re passionate about and start to find your place in its solution.

6) How has your school or school’s social entrepreneurship initiative helped you progress as a student social innovator and in this venture?
We are still working on building social entrepreneurship at Elon University, but I think that we will be making some big moves in direction soon.

More information about Jensen will be featured on social media this week, so make sure to like Ashoka U on Twitter and! Check out Ashoka U’s blog each week to see new stories of phenomenal student changemakers making a difference in the world.